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Natural Areas

Your Natural Areas#

Thanks to voter support of sales tax ballot measures, the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department conserves valued lands and provides recreation and educational access to these community treasures. There are 50 natural areas and over 100 miles of trail encompassing more than 36,000 acres. There is likely a natural area near you!

Natural Areas are special places that people care about such as foothills and plains, ranches and farmlands, wetlands, rivers and ponds- all are conserved and stewarded. These places are in your neighborhoods, around your city and in your region.

Within a natural area you can see, touch, feel, and experience natural and cultural treasures.The network of conserved natural areas is integral to the identity and vitality of the Fort Collins community. Natural Areas are about ecological values, quality of life, economic health, and what matters to residents. 

Most Fort Collins natural areas are open for your enjoyment and recreation from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. except for Bobcat Ridge Natural AreaGateway Natural Area, and Soapstone Prairie Natural Area which are open from dawn to dusk. Reservoir Ridge Natural Area's parking lots at Overland Trail Rd. and Michaud Lane are open dawn to dusk.

Thank you voters! Your citizen-initiated city and county sales taxes fund the Natural Areas Department, including land conservation, trails and educational programs. Funds from these taxes, by law, are dedicated to the Natural Areas Department and may not be used for other parts of the city government. More details about the finances are in Natural Areas Annual Reports.


The Natural Areas Department's mission is to conserve and enhance lands with natural resource, agricultural and scenic values, while providing meaningful education and appropriate recreation opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are Natural Areas Important?#

Natural Areas are valuable for many reasons!

  • Recreation - natural areas provide a respite from the urban environment. Natural Areas are a place to hike, bike, walk your dog, ride your horse, bird watch, fish, create art, write, or just enjoy some quiet time outdoors.
  • Education - natural areas are an outdoor classroom for students of every age.
  • Scientific - natural areas are used by scientists to collect data.
  • Economic - natural areas make Fort Collins an attractive place to do business.
  • Cultural - natural areas protect traces of our past.
  • Agricultural- conserved working farms and ranches support local food production, help minimize urban sprawl and provide a community connection to rural culture.
  • Ecological - natural areas filter our water and air, prevent flooding and provide habitat for wildlife and native plants.
  • Aesthetic - the opportunity to hear a creek babbling, see a bird soaring, watch the sun reflect off a dewy spider web, smell a wildflower; these are all experiences to treasure.
  • Add your own reason here!